Sunday, Week 18
I picked up a book by some American pastor full of certainties about the existence of God and the Bible as a user’s guide. All very interesting and perhaps true. Thirty million copies read. I saw he is pastor of a huge evangelical church in California.
But what of people who are not certain? The thought depressed me. Later, I stood in the upstairs window of the Castello and listened to the piano being played.
The effect of being in the cool room, looking through the stone window, the piano being played, the view of the Tuscan countryside, Volterra on its hill in the distance, the cypresses green and heavy, yet certain and quiet, was extraordinarily calming. The importunities of the American preacher faded away.
The Borgo Pignano stands high above the Tuscan valleys. Volterra is in the distance. I tried the door of the chapel, locked and chiuso. Here since the twelfth century, now quiet and seldom used.
Away from the wide expanse of Lerici town, the hotels, restaurants and cafes, and Shelley’s house, forgotten, lies a sheltered bay where many years ago we took young children.
Strange how only some memories survive: the narrow path down to the sea, one high rock where years ago, a small boy would jump from a great height, the narrow hot beach, the shady shadow under the cliff at the side, the Italian women on their mobiles, standing in three feet of water, a form of swimming.
We drove to Lerici on the Italian coast where Shelley lived and died, drowned in the bay. Hundreds of Italians pace up and down in the evening and morning through the calm surf of the bay.
Bluely tranquil, safe, amid the gaily painted houses, the crowded market, the deep cool of narrowed streets, refuge in the empty church, cool side chapels, Madonnas, and out again, swimming far out, right across the bay, the waves building, several figures on the distant shore
Why did Shelley die in this tranquil bay and not one of those moderns on their sun loungers care?